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Asterand, CompuCyte, GE Healthcare, Compugen, Novartis, Exigon, Thermo Electron, Schott Nexterion, Operon, Peter MacCallum Cancer Center, Agilent Technologies


Asterand, CompuCyte Team Up to Provide
Microarrays for Tissue Analysis Service

Asterand will include CompuCyte's quantitative cytometric analysis of tissues and tissue microarrays as a part of its current research molecular pathology services, the firms said last week.

The offering is an extension of Asterand's molecular pathology contract research service, which specializes in immunohistochemistry and RNA in situ hybridization studies using human tissue samples. The samples are assembled into tissue microarrays for expression analysis.

Through the agreement, Asterand will gain access to CompuCyte's iGeneration Imaging Cytometers, which will allow the company to provide quantitative analysis of both fluorescence and chromagenic labels, the companies said.

CompuCyte's cytometers also provide high-resolution tissue analysis, which the firms said will help Asterand create better microarrays.

Financial details were not disclosed.

GE Healthcare Revenues Up 33 Percent for Q1 '05

GE Healthcare had total revenues of $3.3 billion for the first quarter of 2005, up 33 percent over $2.5 billion for the same quarter a year ago — before the acquisition of Amersham — the company reported last week.

GE Healthcare contributed 8 percent of GE's total revenues of $39 billion for the quarter ending March 31, up 19 percent over last year's $33.3 billion.

The healthcare unit — the business segment headquartered in the UK and created to combine GE's legacy medical systems unit with the $10 billion Amersham acquisition of last April — had earnings of $409 million for the quarter, up 21 percent over $340 million in the year-ago period.

Total orders for the healthcare unit grew by 45 percent over the first quarter of 2004 to $3.5 billion. The company said that this growth was driven by 10-percent growth in services, to $1.3 billion; 19-percent growth in equipment, to $1.5 billion; and $700 million in revenues from the Biosciences business unit.

"Our portfolio changes have created a faster-growth company, and the moves we made in the last two years are paying off in excellent performance, particularly at Healthcare, NBC Universal, and Infrastructure," Jeffrey Immelt, GE's chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

GE reported total earnings of $4 billion, up 25 percent from $3.2 billion in first quarter 2004.

Earnings per share were $.38, up 19 percent from last year's $.32.

The company did not disclose its research and development spend for the period.

GE had $148.6 billion in cash and securities on hand at the end of the quarter.

During the quarter, GE Healthcare downsized its Sunnyvale, Calif., facilities — the home of Molecular Dynamics, which Amersham acquired in 1998 — as part of its ongoing integration of Amersham Bioscience. The unit's development workers were offered transfers to GE Healthcare's offices in Piscataway, NJ.

Compugen Signs Pilot Research Deal with Novartis

Compugen will study biological interaction networks for Novartis by using a platform for analyzing microarray and other data it intends to develop, the Tel Aviv, Israel-based company said today.

Under the pilot project, Novartis will pay Compugen a one-time fee for the results and obtain exclusive rights to them. Compugen will retain all rights to the platform it plans to develop under the collaboration. Additional information about this platform was not disclosed. Also not immediately clear is how this platform will differ from Compugen's existing LEADS technology, which analyzes array and other data — inlcuding those supplied by Novartis.

Indeed, in August 2001, Novartis licensed Compugen's LEADS platform and asked the company to design DNA chips. The companies broadened their collaboration to include target validation and RNA interference in September 2002.

Exigon Licenses LNA Rights to Thermo Electron

Exigon last week signed a licensing agreement with Thermo Electron to allow the company to produce and supply locked nucleic acids, the companies said last week.

Under the non-exclusive agreement, Thermo Electron can produce and distribute LNA oligonucleotides to clients performing genomic research, especially to those using microarrays for expression profiling, as well as SNP detection and genotyping.

Exigon claims that its LNA oligonucleotides increase the reproducibility and specificity of assay results. The Danish biotech has similar non-exclusive licensing agreements with Santaris, Phoenix Biotechnologies, Genisphere and other companies.

Financial details were not discussed.

Schott Nexterion, Operon to Co-market

Schott Nexterion and Operon Biotechnologies plan to co-market a microarray kit that will enable researchers to brew their own arrays.

The product, which has not been named yet, combines Operon's 70 mer oligonucleotide probes with Schott Nexterion's complete offering of microarray tools to allow those who print their own arrays to work from the same kit. Customers will be able to choose from three packages that will vary in number of slides and reagents.

Markus Boehm, the international product manager for Schott Nexterion, told BioArray News this week that the estimated market size was approximately $1 million to $2 million for the first year following release "with strong growth potential in the next five years."

Boehm said that while the "final distribution plan is not fully decided yet," the duo plan "to distribute the kit using existing distribution channels of Schott Nexterion and Operon."

Financial agreements of the agreement were not disclosed.

Peter MacCallum Cancer Center Researchers
To Use Agilent CGH Array Technology in Study

Agilent Technologies last week announced that researchers at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Center of Melbourne, Australia, will use its comparative genomic-hybridization microarray products in a three-year cancer study.

The researchers will use the human CGH arrays to study mesothelioma, a cancer found in the lining of the chest, the abdominal cavity and around the heart, usually caused by exposure to asbestos.

According to Andrew Holloway, who runs the microarray lab at Peter Mac, mesothelioma is a big problem for certain Australians exposed to high concentrations of asbestos from working in the local mining industry.

Holloway said that it was a high priority to identify biomarkers for possible early diagnosis of the disease, which could both save lives and take some pressure off the country's health care system.

Stuart Matlow, a spokesperson for Agilent, said that Peter Mac would receive CGH microarrays, protocols, scanners, software, and local technical support as part of its deal with Agilent.

Matlow said that Peter Mac, while high profile, is "not the first major user of Agilent's CGH technology."

"There are a number of cancer centers, universities, and pharmaceutical companies around the world who are early adopters. The technology is still in an early stage and [we] are finding a high level of interest from both academic and commercial users," Matlow said.

Matlow said that CGH was attractive to users due to its high sensitivity. Agilent claims it can detect single deletions on chromosomes that researchers were previously unable to detect.

Financial details were not disclosed.

The Scan

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.

Gut Microbiomes Allow Bears to Grow to Similar Sizes Despite Differing Diets

Researchers in Scientific Reports find that the makeup of brown bears' gut microbiomes allows them to reach similar sizes even when feasting on different foods.

Finding Safe Harbor in the Human Genome

In Genome Biology, researchers present a new approach to identify genomic safe harbors where transgenes can be expressed without affecting host cell function.

New Data Point to Nuanced Relationship Between Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder

Lund University researchers in JAMA Psychiatry uncover overlapping genetic liabilities for major depression and bipolar disorder.